The Crew announced their option decisions this afternoon. They picked up the options on 16 players. They will join four players who had guaranteed deals and three others who are already signed for the 2015 season.
The headlining news is that the Crew exercised the option on Designated Player Federico Higuain. Berhalter recently announced that he wanted Higuain back in 2015 and barring a trade or transfer, he'll line up for the black and gold in March. The team also brings back starting goal keeper Steve Clark, left back Waylon Francis, emerging midfield power Tony Tchani, and the versatile Hector Jimenez.
Berhalter and staff also kept a significant amount of depth on the roster. Defender Tyson Wahl returns after stepping up after the Giancarlo Gonzalez transfer. Both Adam Bedell and Aaron Schoenfeld come back after combining for 14 starts and 5 goals during the 2014 season.
2012 leading score Jairo Arrieta leads the list of players who had their options declined. Arrieta burst on to the MLS scene with 9 goals in his first half season with the team. He then struggled to replicate that form with three goals in 2013 and five more in 2014. He took a pay cut to return to the team last offseason, but never made a consistent impact.
The Crew also cut ties to three home grown players. Ross Friedman, Matt Walker and Matt Wiet were signed before the 2014 season. They didn't get any first team minutes, but they did play with the Crew's USL-Pro partner the Dayton Dutch Lions. 2014 draftee Fifi Baiden never could get healthy enough to make an impact.
The Crew also declined the options on two veterans. Daniel Paladini came to the Crew in a trade with the Chicago Fire, but never settled into Berhalter's system. Two year Crew vet Agustín Viana was a consistent starter during the 2013 season, but struggled fit into Berhalter's plans. After 20 starts at left back and holding midfield, Viana only played in four games as he found himself behind Wil Trapp and Waylon Francis on the depth chart.
Current Crew Roster:
Goalkeepers (3): Steve Clark, Matt Lampson, Brad Stuver
Defenders (7): Chad Barson, Waylon Francis, Michael Parkhurst, Emanuel Pogatetz, Ben Sweat, Tyson Wahl, Josh Williams
Midfielders (10): Romain Gall, Kevan George, Hector Jimenez, Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Mohammed Saeid, Ben Speas, Ben Swanson, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp
Forwards (3): Adam Bedell, Kei Kamara, Aaron Schoenfeld
Crew Roster Breakdown
New Signings: Ben Swanson, Kei Kamara, and Mohammed Saeid
Guaranteed: Emanuel Pogatetz, Michael Parkhurst, Wil Trapp, Ethan Finlay
Option Exercised: Steve Clark, Matt Lampson, Brad Stuver, Chad Barson, Waylon Francis, Ben Sweat, Tyson Wahl, Josh Williams, Romain Gall, Kevan George, Hector Jimenez, Ben Speas, Tony Tchani, Federico Higuain, Adam Bedell, and Aaron Schoenfeld.
Option Declined - Waiver Draft Eligible: Kingsley Baiden, Ross Friedman, Augustin Viana, Matt Walker and Matt Wiet
Option Declined - Re-Entry Draft Eligible: Daniel Paladini and Jairo Arrieta
Out of Contract: Eric Gehrig, Bernardo Anor, and Justin Meram